Why You Should Avoid Touching Your Face at Work

According to a 2015 study in the American Journal of Infection Control, the average person touches their face more than 20 times every hour and over 320 times a day. Our faces are both the origin and entry points for many different viruses, germs, and mucus. 

Those working in the food industry could spread pathogens to food, plates, and water glasses if they don't properly wash their hands. Food workers often transfer pathogens from their hands to food, causing over 80% of outbreaks in food facilities.

From retail to restaurants, employees and managers should stress hand washing and avoid touching their faces to ensure a safer experience. By learning to break the habit of touching your face, you can avoid getting sick and avoid passing viruses and bacteria to those around you.  

This article contains several actionable tips to help you avoid touching your face to ensure the safety of staff, customers, friends, and family. 

Clip Your Hair Back

If you have long hair, you're likely familiar with stray strands hanging in front of your eyes, or sticking to your cheeks and near your mouth. To move your hair aside, you touch your face. 

How do you avoid the temptation of touching your face to move your hair? Consider clipping your hair out of the way!

Keep Tissues Close By

According to a study, when people touch their faces, their hands come in contact with mucus 44% of the time. 

Subconsciously, many people wipe their noses, mouth, or eyes with their fingers, backs of hands, or arms. This mucus can be highly contagious if the person has a viral or bacterial infection. 

How do you break this subconscious habit? Carry disposable tissues in your pocket or purse. If you sniffle, sneeze, cough, or have watery eyes, use a tissue instead of your hands. 

Wear a Mask When Necessary

Wearing a mask has several benefits. It can help prevent the spread of illnesses, and it also helps you to avoid touching your nose or mouth. An adequately worn mask should cover both your nose and mouth.

Additionally, if you cough or sneeze when wearing the mask, the cloth and fibers prevent most pathogens from spreading in the air. Uninhibited sneezes or coughs can spread pathogens to surfaces within six feet of the person who coughed or sneezed. 

Keep Your Hands Busy

When your hands are idle, you might subconsciously touch your face including your nose, chin, mouth, cheeks, or eyes. Some people have subconscious habits such as biting nails or scratching their noses. 

How do you avoid idle hands? Hold a stress ball, fidget spinner, or something to keep your hands occupied. These small tools help your hands stay busy and keep them away from your face.

Make Sure Your Glasses Fit Properly

Ill-fitting glasses are one of the main culprits touching the area around your eyes. If you are constantly adjusting your glasses and pressing them up the bridge of your nose, your hands will come in regular contact with the skin around your eyes. 

Your eyes can absorb pathogens and spread them, so it is essential to keep your hands away from your eyes. Ensure that your glasses fit well and do not need to be adjusted often.  

Additionally, if you wear contacts, avoid rubbing your eyes. When your contacts need to be removed, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol

Why Do You Touch Your Face?

There are many reasons why touching your face may be a subconscious habit. The most common reasons are cosmetics and communication. Individuals who wear cosmetics, such as makeup, false eyelashes, or glued hair edges may find themselves touching their faces to ensure the eyelashes, makeup, or edges are still in place.  Instead, carry a small mirror to check cosmetics.

Many people touch their faces while communicating with others. We may cover our mouths to express surprise, touch our foreheads to show frustration, or press our cheeks to show shyness.  

Touching your face may seem harmless; however, there are countless reasons why you should refrain from touching your face. 

In the workplace, touching your face frequently can expose you and others to potential illness because your face is full of pores that absorb your environment. When you touch a contaminated surface and then rub your eyes or forehead, the contaminant has a way into your body. 

Additionally, if an employee working with food feels unwell while continuously touching their face, they can cause a virus to spread throughout the kitchen. The same thing can also happen if an employee doesn't thoroughly wash their hands after leaving the restroom.  

What to do:

Employees should wash their hands regularly using the recommended CDC4 steps: 

  1. Wet hands with clean water
  2. Lather with soap for at least 20 seconds
  3. Scrub between fingers, nails, and knuckles
  4. Rise the soap thoroughly
  5. Dry hands on a clean towel

Additionally, businesses should have cleaning supplies on hand at all times to not only pass health inspections but to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. When at work, use products to keep surfaces clean from bacteria and viruses. Some of the best cleaning supplies include: 

Having the right products on hand will help ensure that surfaces are clean, limit your exposure to pathogens and will continue to ensure a safe, clean environment for your guests and foodservice workers!


  1. Face touching: A frequent habit that has implications for hand hygienehttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ 2015
  2. Coughing and Sneezinghttps://www.cdc.gov/ 2020
  3. EYE SAFETYhttps://www.cdc.gov/ 2013
  4. When and How to Wash Your Handshttps://www.cdc.gov/ 2020
  5. Why we touch our faces so much – and how to break the habithttps://utswmed.org/ 2020
  6. When and How to Wash Your Handshttps://www.cdc.gov/ 2020
  7. EYE SAFETYhttps://www.cdc.gov/ 2013